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College Learning Assessment

Overview:The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) was developed by the Council for Aid to Education and the RAND Corporation. An initial pilot effort in 2004-05 with 54 institutional participants was used to benchmark and directly measure student progress in critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and writing. The CLA was used at roughly 150 colleges and universities this past year.

Use at WC: Westminster College has used the CLA since 2004-05, initially participating as part of a group of Missouri institutions with funding provided by the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Westminster also shared results with other small colleges as a member of the CIC/CLA Consortium for a number of years.

Results & Reports:

The Westminster College experience Adds Value...

Analysis of CLA results confirm that scaled scores of upper level students are higher than those of first-year students reflecting progress on the core attributes of a liberal education: writing, higher order thinking, problem solving, and quantitative reasoning.

Students complete either a 90-minute assessment task or a combination of one 45-minute and one 30-minute essay tasks.

"PT": Performance Task. This refers to the 90-minute critical thinking task that asks students to review and evaluate a series of documents. It is designed to assess their demonstrated ability to interpret, analyze, and synthesize information.

"MA": Make-an-argument Essay. This refers to the 45-minute essay which asks students to make an argument that supports or rejects a position on some issue. CLAMA

"BA": Break-an-argument Essay (also known as "Critique-an-argument"). This refers to the 30-minute essay where students evaluated the validity of an argument that was made by someone else. CLACA

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